Visiting Napa Valley wineries…and definitely breathing lighter!

It took me by surprise to realize it’s been almost a month since I last posted. I seem to have taken this encouragement to heart!


I have acute spring fever!

It’s true our Southern California climate allows for year-round outdoor activity, but after a lengthy period of dormancy it seems that all living things have decided it’s time to put on their finest display and I am happy to be witness.

The color on this Bougainvillea is so riotous I had trouble photographing it. I took several photos trying to tone down the “noise” and then decided if she wants to be a show-off, I’d just let her!

I’m working in the garden and preparing a new vegetable patch, but at times I just sit and watch the birds as they return to the feeders.

Where have they been for the past few months? Were they hanging around and just not hungry?

Just a few weeks ago we visited Napa Valley and although still winter, certainly enjoyed the beauty of the area. Previous to this latest trip we had always visited in the fall when the grapes are harvested and wine production kicks in–the Crush.

But at the end of February it was still quite cold, the vines were dormant, and the winery tours extremely hospitable and welcoming. And we didn’t have the summer crowds to contend with–always a nice surprise!

Our primary purpose for traveling so far north was to spend time with our grandson and his parents in total relaxation in Calistoga at Indian Springs resort.  

But in between soaks in the thermal pools we took advantage of visiting a couple of local wineries. We chose to walk to August Briggs Winery, a small family owned and operated Napa/Sonoma producer with a tasting room in downtown Calistoga.

There are SO MANY wineries and tasting rooms, so we primarily make a choice based on recommendation. August Briggs was initially introduced through a friend.

The tasting was well worth the time! This stop was a treat not just for the delicious wine, but also for the stories and a bit of history, which always pleases me.

We were introduced to an Italian varietal, Charbono, rarely found in Napa wineries because there are less than 100 acres of this varietal planted in the entire state.

August Briggs also introduced us to another varietal somewhat rare in its availability, Pinot meunier which is a close relative of the Pinot noir grape.It is normally grown in France and used as a sparkling wine varietal.

In complete contrast to the small boutique winery, we also visited Sterling Vineyards.

How about tasting with a view?

This was quite literally a breathtaking experience.

From our little gondola I snapped a photo of my son, daughter-in-law and infant grandson ascending ahead of us on Sterling’s one of a kind (in Napa Valley) aerial tram. Gulp!

The views are stunning and it is part of the experience! The winery planners needed a way to transport visitors and staff to the hilltop winery, and I must admit to being quite impressed.

Time of year dictated that we didn’t witness any of the wine production in progress, but the beautiful winery also includes several rooms open to the public for exploration and I’d be very interested in visiting in the fall as witness to the business end.

However, there is something really nice about the off-peak season.

A very beautiful environment, minimal crowds…definitely breathing lighter!